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June 9, 2014

Shoreline projects in $1.7B plan

BOSTON — Millions of dollars for waterfront upgrades are in the works for coastal communities from Salisbury to Gloucester as part of a $1.7 billion plan for infrastructure improvements throughout the state.

Lawmakers representing the North Shore and Merrimack Valley piled on nearly a dozen projects for shoreline protection, parks, harbors and watersheds to a capital spending plan approved by the House of Representatives last week.

Newburyport could get $3.2 million to repair sections of bulkhead that support the commercial fishing pier downtown. Built between 1977 and 1987, the steel walls also stabilize the shoreline and support the boardwalk.

The project was championed by outgoing Rep. Michael Costello, D-Newburyport, who also lobbied for $250,000 to upgrade the state-owned fishing pier at the city’s Cashman Park.

“It’s one of the most popular boat launches in the state,” said state Sen. Kathleen O’Connor Ives, D-Newburyport, who plans to introduce the measures in the Senate. “So it’s important that we maintain it.”

The bill also lays out $1 million to move sand from a dredging operation on the Piscataqua River and parts of Portsmouth Harbor to sand-starved beaches in Salisbury, Newburyport and Newbury.

Members of the Merrimack River Beach Alliance want a portion of the estimated 730,000 cubic yards of sand dredged by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The feds are offering the sand for free, but communities that want it have to pay about $3 per cubic yard to move it.

State Sen. Bruce Tarr, R-Gloucester, said the project is a “significant opportunity” to replenish beaches with sand that is becoming increasingly expensive.

“If we had to buy that sand on the open market these days, it would be around $20 a cubic yard, conservatively,” he said. “So this would be a huge savings for these communities.”

Salisbury also stands to get funding for beachfront upgrades including $1.4 million for a bathhouse and lifeguard station at Salisbury Beach and $1 million for projects at the Salisbury Beach State Reservation.

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